Summer is here, and for those with a green thumb, the gardens are ready to bloom! For those of us who haven’t quite started yet, it’s not too late to grow up!
Why plant a garden?
Why not? Planting a garden can enhance your home by increasing green space and making it a rewarding experience. With a little effort, a little water, and the right weather, you can enjoy perks like blooming flowers or veggies and fruits to savor. Planting, from the inground garden to the containers on the balcony, offers serious environmental benefits.
Through photosynthesis, plants recycle carbon dioxide and release oxygen and water. Plants also remove chemicals and bacteria that can float in the air. Under the ground there is also magic. The roots of a plant absorb moisture from the surrounding soil, including heavy metals and chemicals in the soil and groundwater. A plant that grows poorly can indicate a problem with the soil to a gardener. The roots will also help bind the soil together, which prevents erosion. Arable soils are more likely to be affected by water movement and contain organic debris such as leaf litter which will decompose to add nutrients to the soil.
Planting a vegetable patch will help you reduce your carbon footprint. Growing your own food means fewer trips to the store. In addition, much of the produce purchased from the supermarket has traveled from where it was grown to arrive at the store. You will also save time and money by growing your own produce.
Plantations also support beneficial insects and birds. Pollinators, like bees, need all the help they can get, and flowering plants provide exactly what the doctor ordered. Your garden will also provide them with protection from predatory insects and inclement weather. Plantations also provide them with space to complete their life cycle. Birds will help keep unwanted insects away. These airborne recipients are not only pleasing to the eye, but they are also an integral part of the environment, spreading vegetative seeds.
Starting and maintaining a garden will be aesthetic, relaxing, provide products while reducing your carbon footprint. Are you ready to start? Read on!
Let’s start planting your garden!
First, choose what to grow. A flower garden is always pretty. If you are planning to plant a vegetable garden, choose vegetables to grow that you and your family will enjoy. Also, be sure to choose plants that will grow in your area. Hudson County is located in the USDA Hardiness Zone 6A.
Next, you need to choose a location for your garden. Ideally, vegetable and fruit plants need full sun with at least five hours of direct sunlight per day. Plants such as green leafy vegetables, herbs, and root vegetables should have partial shade. Once you’ve determined this, make sure you can access the garden. Also find a location away from children’s play areas, pet access, and even animals such as rabbits.
Make a plan for the garden space, including the size and whether it will be a raised garden bed or a sunken bed. The beds should be 3 to 4 feet wide and about 10 feet long. Plants should be planted in rows or in a grid. You will want to minimize aisles while maximizing the size of the plant space. Keep in mind that some plants, like zucchini and other squash, spread as they grow. Most plants have suggestions for how much space each plant will need. A small, well-tended garden can produce as much or more than a large overgrown garden. Other plants such as cucumbers, beans, and tomatoes will grow along a fence or in cages.
What to do at the end of the season? A successful gardener uses a mixture of fall leaves and grass clippings placed in an even layer. Over the winter, this organic material will decompose and provide organic fertilizer to the soil below. Another helpful tip is to place coffee grounds and eggshells above the garden. When your garden is turned over to start the next season, these materials will continue to provide golden soil for future planting.
Purchase gardening tools such as a garden shovel, leaf rake, dirt rake, and small garden shovel. While you are at the garden center, buy some garden soil for your corner. Most garden crops thrive with soil with a pH of around 7. If you plan on planting in pots, look for ones that are equal to the size of the plant.
Some gardeners believe in laying down landscaping to help control the spread of weeds. Landscape fabric can be purchased at your local garden center and will be secured with landscape staples. When planting, cut a hole in the landscaping fabric for your plants to grow. Other gardeners choose to let the soil “breathe” in the open elements. Another method is to place cut grass around your plants. Grass clippings will help control weed growth while providing fertilizer for the soil as they decompose.
Let’s go plant! Seeds should be planted 3 times deeper than the seed diameter, unless otherwise specified on the seed label. For pre-started plants, they should be planted at the same depth as they are in the pot. The exception is tomatoes which must be planted deeper than this depth.
Nature will take its course to help your garden thrive, but it also needs to be nurtured. It’s therapeutic! Remember to water your plants well, especially during the hottest periods when the sun’s rays are strongest. Stay on top of weeds when they are smaller, they will be easier to maintain. Your plants must also be fertilized and fed to allow them to thrive!
If you are growing a vegetable garden, you should start to see produce in July, depending on when you are planting your garden. Under favorable weather conditions, your garden should produce a premium until mid-October.
Congratulations, you are a gardener! You have just helped yourself and the environment.